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Rating: 4.0938
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ID: 809


October 27, 2005, 2:49 pm

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The Ellis of Kestidel


The Ellis of Kestidel is the main building to register as a citizen of Kestidel. It is located outside of the city and thus must have its own defenses.

This is the entrance to the city of Kestidel for new immigrants. It is a fortified tower located outside of the city walls. The Ellis is a loud and noisy place were many different languages could be heard spoken. It is the gateway to the city of Kestidel where its new population registers as citizens, owning land and paying taxes, or as workers for the factories.

The Ellis is located outside of the city to help control the flow of immigrants into the city. Because of its location outside of the city it must also be defensible from Orcen tribes raiding the city. But at the same time it must serve its main purpose as the official entrance to the city.

The Ellis is named such for another similar facility in the capitol. The Isle is named Ellis. So everywhere they have a similar facility, they are called Ellises.

The building itself has two parts, The Line and The Tower.

The Line is a long, long main room. It is nine times longer than wide, and it is about seven meters wide. The main doors are thick, heavy, and guarded at all times. There is a long low wall running the length of The Line. Along each wall there are tables. Each table has a functionary that performs some part of the bureaucratic process. For those functionaries that search people or do “exams”, they have tri-fold screens to provide some modicum of privacy. There is a long low wall running down the center of the main room. (Of course you often have to see someone on “the other side”, so you have to go against the flow to get back to the front, then argue with the functionary to let you go up the other side… then wait in line to reach him… then redo the process to get back to your proper place).  The very end has a HUGE desk - The Roles. It is here that your “tenative citizenship” is recorded and your chip/ papers are generated. Behind this huge desk is a blocking wall. It has the stairs that lead up to the tower.

The walls of the Ellis are decorated with carvings and sculpture proclaiming the might of the city. Many of the scenes on the relief panels depict important battles in which the city’s troops were victorious. It also includes some obscure references to certain non military historical events as well.

The Tower is a round, five levels high, tower, topped with a pewter dome. The various levels of the tower hold administrative offices for the Ellis. The Magistrate’s main office is actually here, since it is a Government Building, rather than a City Building. The Tower also has several store rooms of supplies and arms, should the Ellis be besieged.

Under the stairs that lead up to the tower, there is a little door which leads to downward stairs. The door is easy to miss and seems to have been offuscated. Here the archives are kept.

As additional support for the Ellis, the top floor houses Gryphon riders who do long range reconnaissance missions to spot invading orcs.

Note: Why is this place called Ellis? It served as the chief immigration point into the city as refugees and player characters came into the city. For Americans, most people instantly recognized what the building was and what it was like. Most people have never seen Ellis Island in real life, nor will we ever be able to experience it the way it was when it was still operating, but most Americans will have an instant understanding of what it is. You can mentally see new immigrants to America moving through incomprehensible lines, being poked and prodded, scared of doing something wrong, speaking foreign languages. That’s the mental image this location should produce.

New players/ character’s first experiences in a campaign should be through the Ellis. It should be a collectively horrible experiences, a right of passage into the campaign. Every player should go through the experience because it is scary, and because successfully completing the immigration process was viewed, as a player was actually entitled to play with his comrades that had gone before. By using such “modern” names I hope that you will be able to transpose the known into the fantastic.

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Comments ( 10 )
Commenters gain extra XP from Author votes.

Voted CaptainPenguin
July 10, 2005, 16:51
Oh, wow.

Well, let me be the first to say- I absolutely LOVE seeing modern pop-culture and historical elements slipped into a setting, as long as it doesn't compromise the setting itself (i.e., a hip-hop inspired race with "Adidas" track-stripe designs on their clothing, rather than a culture whose music is repackaged rap).
And this is a total match for that. Perfectly done, absolutely interspectacular (though it needs a touch of "spicing up"; as it is, it isn't particularly interesting in and of itself, but that can be solved in-setting).

Amazingly well done, Moon, amazingly well done.
Bogen vor der Ubermensche!

Voted Monument
July 11, 2005, 15:49
I've never been one much for the details of day to day life in the game. In the same way that I, as a person, am quite uninterested in the inner workings of the DMV, as a DM and a player, I would not be interested in the details of an Ellis Island type of place, at least not inside a game, and I probably wouldn't place an adventure anywhere near this place.

However, this is just the sort of place to enact some sort of "information destruction" plot where perhaps a shapeshifter makes it into the bowels of the process and then starts to wreak havoc from the central weak point, destroying important records that would help find some important but unrecognized immigrant that has slipped between the proverbial cracks. If they can hide the immigrant's entry to the place, he can be a mole or double agent or some such after the fact.

Since I couldn't use this setting for an adventure, but rather only as an interlude, I had to lower my vote. 3/5.
July 12, 2005, 10:48
One note on scoring, you should not rate it based upon usefulness to your campaign, but on its quality of expression and its general applicability to any campaign. If former rather than the latter was the case, then I would be forced to score anything that did not fit Kerren or Arth lower than it was. Since Kerren is a radically different world than most fantasy games, everything would be scored 1s and 0s. Arth operates under some very different assumptions that your standard fantasy game, so most everything would be a 1 or 2.

Mostly this setting is one for setting the tone and position for the campaign. It would be a right of passage for every new character/ player. It can set the tone of the city's bone crushing buracracy, under-caring city government, and distant central government... much like Lankamar's. It is a just a small segment of the character's life, a common experience that can bind them together. It is so much more interesting than "you meet up in a bar" or "you answer the cryer's call".

And one last thing: Sure your players will never need to know much about these details. But you, as the GM, like an author, must know two to three levels deep worth of details that might never come into play, but you just might need them if your players stray.
Voted EchoMirage
July 12, 2005, 16:07
Monument, though you probably have not ever considered the possibility, you can have more fun with a bureaucrat who's 1st level, with no combat relevant stats (pot-belklied, unfit, cowardly), but sits in the right place and has a stamp you need.

Now, if you COULD just thropw damage at him, he'd be no threat, but you CANNOT. He's got a stamp, and the power to deny you the access to it.
You cannot kill him.
You cannot charm him - your casting would be instantly noticed. You have to (gasp!) role-play to get to the stamp he clutches and calls it his Preciousss.

As I discern from your posts, you play only in one way: the GM sets an objective, the players accomplish it. Wow. To this end, perhaps 3/4 of all the posts at Strolen's will be useless to you, as they deal with things like logical world design, and ideas you'd consider outright heretical :D

Your way to game is not the only path, and not a path I'd choose. I can play Diablo or something similar if I look out for quests like 'kill baddie and bring in his left testicle for a rerward'.
You will probably be shocked to discover that my group is able to have fun on a session where the only objective, if one can call it thus, that a PC gets married, and tries to solve disputes between her husband and his father, as well as several other NPCs. Just for the sake of her having a peaceful wedding and better relations.
You'd be shocked to hear that one of the players once appointed a solo-session, and spent 20 minutes on quest-stuff, and four HOURS on playing out and elaborating the relationship of his knight PC and the NPC squire.

It's called ROLE-playing and not QUEST-completing after all.

I think that I don't need to continue.
July 13, 2005, 1:40
Okay, Echo, I have to say that if you continue to assume that Monument plays everything straightforward D&D bashing, whether that is true or not, you ARE going to piss him off.
And I think it's best if we are ambassadorial towards our new members, especially ones who have the experience of Monument, yes?
July 13, 2005, 1:59
Easy there, killers... I don't want to start a holy war or some such. Truth be told, I appreciate EchoMirage's attempts to guide me, and see his comments for what they are, a genuinely constructive criticism.

If I had to defend myself, he is somewhat right in his assumptions, I play a LOT of D&D, but it's RARELY smash and grab. Where most D&D is fairly typical bonk the noggin, grab the loot type of stuff, our game is usually far more intricate than that.

Yes, I like the plot to be straightforward and simple, but that doesn't preclude twists and turns along the way, of which we have PLENTY. In short, the fact that a plot's goal is front and center does NOT mean that the path to that goal is a straight line.

As far as this setting is concerned, I would never bother to make up the details of the interior of what amounts to the fantasy equivalent of the INS office, because unless I specifically make an adventure that requires a visit there, my players are so highly unlikely to want to visit there that it's not even worth my time to bother creating it. If they ever DID decide to go there, I would probably just "institutionalize it", and hope it met their expectations.
Voted Strolen
July 13, 2005, 18:35
I think Echo said it quite well.

Of course you are going to have to specifically make it so they must to go there. That goes for any setting listed. This place is easy as it can fit in any town you choose to put it in with little effort. If the DM can't make it worth going to or make it a requirement for something else, then of course they are not going to visit, that goes for every single place in your game.

I think that Ellis is an excellent improvement that is much better, and more unique, than going to "yet another town", into "yet another tavern" or shop to restock your inventory. The point of going into towns is lost when they are all the same.

You can come towards any town and you come upon what is described. You find out you can't just walk into this city to restock your monster killing gear, you have to go through Ellis and register before you can enter the city.

They go go into the wrong line about to register as a citizen when they just to get a visitor's pass. But as a visitor they have to pay a toll to enter while citizens get in free. They get their pass, have to go through another line and pay to get their entrance token, now they can finally enter and restock. On top of all that they can read the rules of the city, maybe get pickpocketed, get separated, etc...

They finally get into the city and restock or go to the tavern/inn and it is mentioned that whatever they needed could have been bought at Ellis if you went down the corridor to the right or whatever.

The entire thing doesn't have to last more than 15 minutes of game time, but now you have broadened the depth of your world and made a unique city that they will remember. They may not remember the name (unless you do call it Ellis) but they will remember "that place that we got jacked around."

That is the point of these things. You can't always take them at face value either. Most of them are just creative ideas to get you going and this one is a very easy one to make something very unique, hence my vote.

It is still a little rough. If it was just for citizenship the city would have to be absolutely huge to make it busy, which is why I say anybody that enters the city must check in to force some more traffic. 7meters x 63meters is pretty darn big for a hallway.

-Might even make it better if it was the entrance to the entire kingdom. Once in the kingdom if you haven't checked into Ellis you might get fines etc. for not following procedure.
-Perhaps some of the nicer places in the kingdom then require citizenship through Ellis to even stay there or maybe they get a normal price and non-citizens have a huge mark-up.
-Counterfeiting papers might turn into something worth it. The players may not enter near Ellis so, for them, Ellis is just this place to get paperwork even if they never visit it. They end up buying a bady copy of papers (or token or whatever) and it could get them into trouble.

It is not so much just Ellis, but the entire concept of it that you can really use.
Voted Murometz
March 18, 2006, 17:41
Only voted
June 29, 2006, 15:49
No comment Muro?
Voted valadaar
February 27, 2014, 12:55
Not something I would have thought about - but it stands to reason something like this could exist in highly organized nations.

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Ideas  ( System ) | September 24, 2011 | View | UpVote 4xp

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